Horse Shoe Bitters

Provenance: Ferdinand Meyer V Collection

There is scant discoverable information on the Horse Shoe Bitters bottle marked from Collinsville, Illinois which is about 12 miles northeast of St. Louis, Missouri.

This is a figural bottle in the shape of a horseshoe with a motif of a horse running left with three feet off the ground. By any standard, it is a great bottle that comes in amber and clear glass. Our museum example actually shades from orange-amber in the center to yellow-amber on the sides which makes it a striking example.

The bottle is embossed “HORSE SHOE BITTERS’ in an arch on one side within the embossed form of a horseshoe with a sunken panel within. The reverse side has ‘HORSE SHOE MEDICINE CO’ embossed in an arch with the horse motif embossed within the arch on a sunken panel. The same horseshoe form occurs outside of the copy and horse. Beneath the horse is embossed copy that reads, ‘COLLINSVILLE ILLS.’ in two horizontal lines. ‘PATENT APPLIED FOR’ is embossed on the base in one line. There is a long tapered collar mouth with a tooled lip. The base is smooth.

We do know from a newspaper clipping in 1891 that the Horse Shoe Bitters Company moved their laboratory from St. Louis, Missouri to Collinsville, Illinois to increase their output. They note that an addition to their building would be necessary. They kept their St. Louis office for administration as we see an advertisement in 1895 that a “Salesman is Wanted”, with references, to sell the celebrated Horse-Shoe Bitters on commission. They were to respond to Horse Shoe Medicine Co. at 2005 Morgan Street.

Lucille Stehman from Collinsville published a book titled Collinsville Illinois: A Pictorial History. In it, there is a picture of a baseball team from the Hardscrabble Mine. They were also known as the Horseshoe Bitters. They started playing in the late 1800s. The field they played on was the Hardscrabble field. There also was a saloon in Collinsville known as Hardscrabble.

The figural horseshoe bottle is such a favorite that there are many reproductions made in Taiwan and by Wheaton Glass Company. In the display above, you can see two originals and some of the later reproduction in white milk glass and amber from Wheaton, and colored miniatures marked Taiwan. If you “Google” Horse Shoe Bitters you will get page after page of listings for these later reproductions.

The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:

H 189 HORSE SHOE BITTERS ( au ) // f // HORSE SHOE MEDICINE CO. ( au ) / motif horse running left with three feet off ground, ground showing / COLLINSVILLE / ILLS. // f // // b // PATENT APPLIED FOR
8 ¾ x 4 x 2
Horseshoe, Amber, and Clear, LTC, Tooled lip, 2 sp, Rare

Primary Image: Horse Shoe Bitters imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.

Support: Reference to Bitters Bottles by Carlyn Ring and W. C. Ham. Use of Horse Shoe Bitters illustration courtesy Bill Ham.

Support Image: Clear colorless glass Horse Shoe Bitters example from the Ferdinand Meyer V collection.

Support Image: Dark amber example from Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions.

Support: Reference to The wonderful Horse Shoe Bitters from Collinsville, Illinois at Peachridge Glass

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